Image via Wikipedia
I just read this post from a friend of mine on Facebook: “One of the political sites that I go to just posted a slew responses from people on FB to the Japanese earthquake saying, in effect, that it’s payback for Pearl Harbor. How awful can some people be? Sometimes I just don’t understand people.”
At first I was speechless, but now I need to write.
I then went over to amblerangel’s post to see if she had any more updates, and found a comment from another blogger asking if Japan was a communist country? (NO, it is not) If the US knew about Japan’s nuclear reactors (Yes, the government did) and commenting that it might be a good thing that the reactors are being destroyed.
Now, I realize that comment may have been innocent and simply from lack of knowledge, but it made me angry, so now I need to write. I don’t even know if I can clearly express what I am feeling, but I’m going to try.
I apologize in advance if this offends anyone, but I cannot stand back and view words that come from lack of knowledge or hate anymore. I wish I could write this with only words of love, but sometimes our language fails us. Just know, that my only hope for this world is that we recognize that our mutual survival (and the survival of the earth itself) depends on us finding a way past hate.
I spent the day wandering through the Peace Park and noticed the strings of thousands of colorful paper cranes piled up everywhere with school groups laying more all around and taking pictures, cheery smiles on their faces. I was unsure of the meaning until I came to the statue of Sadako, the base of which was nearly buried in the bright pieces of color. Sadako died of cancer caused radiation poisoning after the bombing of Hiroshima. As she lay in the hospital she started folding a thousand paper cranes in the hopes that if she reached a thousand she would live. She never made it, but her school friends folded the rest for her and raised the money to create a statue commemorating her to be displayed in the Peace Park.
That story stayed with me, and when Nathan and I got married we folded (with the help of others) a thousand paper cranes as part of our decorations and invitations–a symbol of love, of hope and of peace.
That day in Hiroshima I witnessed the remnants of war, the shadows of bodies burned forever into stone. I watched the videos of lives devastated by the decision to drop a single bomb. I rang the bell representing peace and prayed that nothing like this would ever happen again.
But the most powerful moment was when I sat in a tea house and a Japanese man approached me. He said, “I am sorry that we made you drop the bomb on us. Please forgive us.” He was apologizing to me for the senseless destruction caused by my country! I didn’t know how to respond. So later I wrote in my journal, and cried.
A wonderful Japanese family took me and another friend on vacation to an onsen (hot springs) in Kyushu. We stayed in a traditional Japanese hotel, complete with tatami mats and futons pulled out of closets for us at night. We ate incredible sashimi and sushi, including fugu (blowfish) a treat that I didn’t know about until after I ate it and felt the tingle of what can be poisonous on my lips. The fish melted in my mouth. We soaked in tubs that offered various experiences to help keep us healthy, including mud baths and carrot infused water. We ate in a large room that also allowed for karaoke for anyone interested.
It happened to be the anniversary of the day we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. As we sat having a meal an old Japanese man approached me and started speaking in angry tones, tears pouring down his wrinkled face. I did not speak much Japanese at the time, but the few words I was able to understand (and the translation provided by my hosts) made it clear. He was angry because I was American and because we had dropped the bomb and destroyed his family. As best I could, I apologized explaining that my family had nothing to do with that bomb or that decision, and that I too likely lost family during the war–to concentration camps throughout Europe. The family I was with defended me, and eventually the man walked away.
Inside my heart was broken. And today it hurts even more.
Nobody has Supremacy and Nobody Deserves Disaster
How dare anybody say that the events in Japan are payback?! While there are guilty people in every country, innocent people die for no reason–especially in war and natural disasters like this. Statements like that make me ashamed to have been born in America. My birth here does not make me superior to anyone. Not even the people who are so blinded by their own superiority complex that they cannot recognize that we all should have equal rights in this world–including the right to live in peace, believing whatever we believe, and loving whoever we want to love.
How dare anybody assume that America has more right to controlling nuclear power than any other country? That is the responsibility of the world, not one single country. I have seen little evidence, recently, that the US has any moral supremacy that gives it any right to dictate how the rest of the world lives. We have made mistakes. Currently, this country is stripping rights away from people in ways that go against the very foundation and reason behind our country’s existence. Until we get our own act together, we have no right to judge or dictate how the rest of the world functions–or at least not from a position of superiority. (I’m sure this statement is going to put me on some list somewhere, but it is how I am feeling). As long as we allow hatred of difference and imagined superiority to rule our decision-making processes, we are no better than anyone else.
There is my political statement of the day. This is the message that comes from a broken heart that can no longer stand by and listen to words of hate. Now, the only thing I have left is tears.